Students Prepare for Spring Break Service Trips

Sam Grainger-Shuba

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The 2014 spring break service trips take off to their various locations next week, and the students leading and attending the four different trips are finishing their preparations.

Spring break service trips are week-long excursions during the two-week Whitman College break, two leaving the first week and two the second week. During these trips, students focus on a particular social issue outside of the Walla Walla area and help the community they visit to combat that issue.

“One of the nice things about the spring service trips is that whether or not you believe that fixing one trail or one patch of invasive species is making a difference, you can see the progress you’ve made in a day,” said sophomore Spring Service Trip Leader Cam Hancock. “That, for me, is the most rewarding.”

In the first week, “Relief & Rebuilding” will head to New Orleans to work with organizations doing disaster relief, and “Urban Education” will be off to Portland, Ore. to work with organizations trying to close the racial-equity gap in schools in the area. During the second week, “Refugees & Resettlement” will be in Seattle working with refugees to find stable housing and work, and “Environmental Conservation” will be in Eugene, Ore. restoring parts of the landscape that have been damaged by pollution and neglect.

Sophomore Lucinda Sisk was inspired to lead a service trip after going on one herself last year, as well as leading a Summer Community Out-Reach Excursion this past summer. She will be heading to Seattle for the “Refugees & Resettlement” trip on March 22.

“The theme of my SCORE was ‘Housing & Homelessness,’ and I really connected with that theme and the people that we worked with,” she said. “I’m excited to take that further into Seattle, which is a larger city with more people, more immigrants, more organizations working on housing issues. I’m excited to meet other groups and see how they’re working on these issues.”

Sophomores Hancock and Emma Altman will be headed to Eugene, Ore. on March 22 to work on environmental conservation in the area around Mount Pisgah. They will be doing trail restoration, invasive species removal and work with a native plant nursery.

“A lot of what our work does is raise awareness. We’ll definitely be impacting the places where we work in a significant way, but restoring one trail in one town only does so much.”

Altman also commented that she and Hancock have used the momentum from their past service trips to work on similar issues in their own communities and in the Walla Walla community.

“It’s a good way to get involved. I feel like a lot of Whitman students, especially the ones who don’t live off campus spend all of their time in a very small part of downtown [Walla Walla] or on campus,” said Altman.

Sisk commented that the most important part of the spring break trips is that they really serve as educational experiences for students.

“I think it’s important because not only are we doing a small-to-moderate amount of physical, tangible help, but we’re also educating ourselves on these issues, which are very prevalent in most cities and oftentimes get swept under the rug when you are able to go to a college and don’t really have to worry about those things immediately,” said Sisk. “It helps us not only appreciate where we are, but also empathize and work toward social change for a greater good.”

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